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    Transgender kids: At greater risk of poor mental health?

    Despite earlier studies that reveal increased depression an anxiety in transgender children and adolescents, new research published in Pediatrics reveals that children who were supported in their choice of gender identity were no more likely to suffer negative psychosocial effects than other children.

    Recommended: Transgender kids aren't confused about their gender identity

    The study—aligned with the TransYouth Project—followed 73 transgender children aged 3 to 12 years alongside non-transgender children in the same age group. Based on observations and parental reports, researchers found that transgender children raised in an environment that supported their early choices to deviate from their natal sex were no more depressed than other children, and only slightly more anxious.

    More than ever in the past, being transgender is becoming more socially acceptable, and some children who have socially transitioned early in their childhood are being raised and presented to others based of their gender identity rather than their natal sex, according to the report.

    Despite increased social acceptance of transgender individuals, the research team acknowledges that there is still heated debate on the topic and a lack of research on the mental health implications of social transitioning in transgender children. As a result, physicians have little data to support recommendations to parents of children who question their gender identity.

    In adult and adolescent studies of transgender individuals, there have been reports of higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. These findings, however, are likely the result of years of prejudice, discrimination, and social rejection, according to the new report.

    “There is now growing evidence that social support is linked to better mental health outcomes among transgender adolescents and adults,” according to the study. “These findings suggest the possibility that social transitions in children, a form of affirmation and support by a prepubescent child’s parents, could be associated with good mental health outcomes in transgender children.”

    In previous studies following children who were not supported in their gender identity, researchers found high rates of internalizing disorders such as anxiety and depression. However, the researchers point to 2 newer studies involving children whose gender identifies were affirmed and supported who showed relatively good mental health without the psychopathologies found in the children whose gender identities were unsupported in earlier studies.

    NEXT: What were some potential limitations to the study?

    Rachael Zimlich, RN
    Rachael Zimlich is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes regularly for Contemporary Pediatrics, Managed Healthcare ...

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